One might be of greater interest than another. Couples therapy is often initiated when the most pressing issue in each person’s life is the relationship itself. Couples therapy is helpful in addressing issues of emotional intimacy, communication and independence, while the relationship offers insights into oneself. Whereas in individual therapy, the reflections and insights come from examining one’s life more generally, which might include discussions about one’s partner. Individual therapy can offer more focused attention to experiences of oneself, which might inform and expand our ability to be ourselves in the world, as well as in relationships.
People may choose to begin with couples therapy, and later do individual work with a different therapist, or vice versa. Individual therapy can lead to our being more available in our relationships, while couples work is a living experience of our self in relationship to another. The part our partner may play in what we are sometimes challenged to see in ourselves can come up directly in a session. Where we take issue with our partner can also be a familiar inner conflict. In both individual and couples work the therapeutic container intends to bring awareness to your self, often through experiencing the contrast with the “other,” (the inner and/or outer “other”), in whichever way we may be perceiving it.